Here’s a great Summer recipe celebrating goats and their love of foraging, although lamb is a fine substitute too. As an animal that browses rather than grazes, goats will even eat the tender foliage of young trees, like deer, which is especially useful when trying to control things like invasive buckthorn shrubs. The City of Minneapolis, and other towns, actually employ herds of goats to graze on non-native plants to help control them. With their special diet preferences, ability and desire to eat a vast variety of plants, goats are truly amazing animals.
Chef Alan Bergo loves cooking with wild greens, so what could be more fitting than a delicious, grass-fed rack (or loin chops) of goat with the foraged greens they love to eat? Chef Bergo uses a special technique he learned in Provence, France, to make the greens extra tender and curb any bitterness, no matter what time of year they’re picked. You can use a wide variety of greens, but some of the best ones in summer can come right from your yard: dandelions, lamb’s quarter, amaranth, and galinsoga are all widely available, and excellent prepared like this. Below are two of Chef’s favorites: lambsquarters and amaranth. Both are cousins related to quinoa, and both were cultivated by ancient peoples of South America, specifically the Aztecs, for their vigorous growth, and nutritive properties.
The greens are blanched, finely chopped, mixed with a few simple ingredients and made into hand-formed cakes, then browned in the fat leftover from cooking the goat rib rack. When browned, the green centers of the cakes steam, developing a crisp outside, and a soft, tender inside. They’re one of Chef’s favorite ways to make wild greens: we think the goats will approve.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a 15 year veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. He’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at his site Forager Chef.
- ½ rack to serve 2 or a full rack of goat or rack of lamb to serve 4
- Fresh cut chives
- Lemon wedges, for serving, optional
- For the goat, cut a cross-hatch pattern in the fat cap to help the fat render and release while cooking. You will use the goat fat to cook the beans and green fritters. Liberally season the goat rack with salt and pepper and allow to rest for a few hours uncovered, in the fridge to dry out (optional).
- Heat a heavy pan, like cast iron, until hot, then brown the goat rack well, slowly rendering the fat out until the fat cap is crisp on medium-medium high heat. Quickly flip over the goat rack to cook the other sides, basting if needed with the fat to cook quickly, then remove from the heat when medium rare, about 135F, or your preferred temperature.
- Remove the goat rack to a warm place while you cook the beans and fritters, and drain off the fat, reserving 1 tablespoon for the beans, and the rest for cooking the fritters.
- To serve, plate the cakes and beans on a platter, with the goat rack in the middle, garnishing with fresh chives and lemon wedges.
Wild Green Fritters
- 6oz wild greens, such as dandelions, lambsquarters, or amaranth
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- A few scrapes of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon flour or equivalent
- Kosher salt, and pepper, to taste
- 1 large egg, plus one yolk
- Reserved goat tallow, as needed for cooking
White Beans with Sage
- 75 cups cooked white cannellini beans (1 15oz can)
- 1 large clove of garlic, sliced thin
- 3-4 large leaves of sage, sliced ¼ inch
- 1 tablespoon reserved goat tallow
- Have a basin of cold water ready, and bring a pot of salted water to a boil for 30-60 seconds, stirring well to help clean the greens in the process.
- Remove the greens to the cold water, swishing them to cool and act as a double rinse. Remove the greens, chop finely, and mix with the remaining fritter ingredients.
- Allow the fritter mix to rest for a few hours (optional)
- Make cakes of about 2-3 tablespoonas each, about 1/2 an inch thick, and fry until well browned on each side in the goat tallow left over from cooking the rack.
- For the beans, add the garlic to 1 tablespoon of tallow, cook until lightly browned, but not burnt, then add the sage, cook for a minute more, add the beans, season to taste, mix, keep warm and reserve.